Media Moves

Let's get to the real issue behind Mariagate

February 3, 2007

Forbes.com columnist Dennis Kneale noted Friday that the coverage of the Maria Bartiromo/Citigroup jet controversy has taken business journalists away from what they should be writing about — the problems at the New York-based bank.

Dennis KnealeKneale wrote, “And we are told, as the Journal intoned, with an upraised eyebrow, that Maria Bartiromo and Todd Thomson were ‘spotted’ at the plush eatery Daniel in New York in late 2005, dining alone. ‘Word of the sighting spread through Citigroup the next day.’ Sure it did–the foreign currency traders must have gone wild. Let’s get this right: A journalist working her sources goes out to dinner with a source who runs a big business for a huge company she covers. Isn’t that what journos do all the time?

“Something odious and sexist and archaic drives these artfully veiled accounts. Bartiromo, who plays it straight and is fiercely committed to her job, would not have been made a target if she weighed 200 pounds and looked like Winston Churchill. And Thomson wouldn’t have gotten pilloried in the press if there weren’t enemies inside or close to Citi feeding off-the-record invective to the writers.

“Let us get back to business: Citi has 1,000 banking branches in the U.S., while Bank of America has six times as many; it has failed to reap billions in private equity bets the way Goldman Sachs routinely does; and it runs third in credit cards. If the numbers suck when the company reports earnings in coming weeks and quarters, we’ll know the real reason for this brouhaha: Mariagate was a way to distract attention from the real screw-ups at Citigroup itself.”

Read more here.

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